What if we could speak the unspeakable, shameful secrets, just for one day?
What if we could say, I have come to hate my child, or I make my money illegally, or I like rough sex, or I am impotent or I am using heroin or I am a compulsive shoplifter or once, I hit my partner?
What would it be like if we could bare ourselves to one another, just for that one day? If that One Thing that inspires a cascade of shame could be spoken to another, without being judged? If we, as a society, had a culture of radical honesty on one particular day?
I have to believe it would be good for us, if the culture of that day were one of listening and accepting, of seeing the humanity beyond The Secret.
Maybe it would be a day we wore masks, to protect ourselves. Or even just wrote or posted the secrets in an anonymous place, so they can’t be used against us later. I don’t know; I like the idea of simple candor, but people are as they are and some are manipulative and unethical.
I have always been impressed by the PostSecret project. If you don’t know it, you should check it out. People are so desperate to tell their secrets without negative consequences.
We drag these dark secrets around with us, convinced they condemn us, when they are simply the facts of our humanity. Few of us are psychopaths who really don’t care–most are suffering unnecessarily by punishing themselves for doing what they needed to do, or what seemed like they needed to do, in the moment. And real psychopaths generally don’t feel badly about what they do.
This is such a bridge too far for the English-speaking world that I am not proposing that we do it. I just think it would be very healthy if we could.
Shame cripples our luminous nature. To be free of one’s secrets is truly to be free.
Ironically, this occurred to me as I was thinking about the satirical holiday Festivus, which originated on the Seinfeld television show and has taken on a life of its own. One of the “Festivus traditions” is “the airing of grievances”, and that got me to thinking about how great it would be if we could get things off our chests once each year.
Is there something you did that fills you with horror and shame? Find someone compassionate to share it with. In the telling, you will probably find that the burden is lightened.
And on the 23rd, happy Festivus!
This concept explored further here.